Christmas and the festivities may be over, but helping managers to keep the season of good will going with their teams will have a huge influence on how engaged and motivated staff will feel as they return to work in 2013.
January is all about new beginnings but it often takes a few weeks for staff to ‘warm up’ and get back into the swing of things after the break. This is a golden opportunity for HR to encourage managers to put engagement at the top of the agenda and help people feel re-connected and ready for the month ahead as quickly as possible. A little planning and effort spent now will help staff feeling more positive and focused on the weeks ahead.
Here are my 5 steps to get January off to a flying start which you can use with your own reports as well as sharing with your managers, focusing on the key roles as managers-as engagers (Prophet, Storyteller, Strategist, Coach and Pilot)
1) First, book a team breakfast or lunch (or virtual meeting if needs be) to bring everyone together on the first or second day back at work. Deliberately allow plenty of time for the informal chat and important bonding that allows your team to know each other as people and not just colleagues. Be interested in what people choose to share with you and be willing to be open, too. Store up any insights and snippets they share with you and think how you could use this to help formulate your engagement plan for them. Eg, someone might reveal they worked for a charity on Christmas day. Once you’re happy people have had a good chance to catch up and share their festive stories, you can then start to focus people on their work.
2) Be the Prophet and reflect on the company’s vision for the future and what it seeks to achieve in 2013. Think about what the company vision means for you personally and how it fits with your own sense of purpose and the values you hold dear. Remind yourself of what you enjoy about work and where you get your energy from. How can you spend more time doing what you love in 2013?
3) Once you’re confident about your own engagement levels, you’re in a great position to influence other’s engagement! Be their Prophet and outline your hopes and dreams for them as a team and why you believe they will be successful. Keep future focused and really positive with assertive and positive language. This is a galvanising role and one that can help spur people into action.
4) Once you clear about the future and direction (Prophet), you need to provide some of the detail and colouring in about what that future journey is going to look and feel like. This is your time to become the Storyteller and make the journey as meaningful and relevant as possible. Use insights you’ve gleaned from your own personal reflections to help build the story. And don’t forget to include some emotion too – hard fact and figures won’t be remembered as well as a story that connects with the audience. Analogies are also a great way to help people imagine and remember important concepts and issues around your story
5) Finally, your role now is to be the Strategist and ensure that all those hopes and plans for engaging your team in 2013 actually happen! Book a one-to-one with every team member to discuss their personal development and plans for the year ahead. This will set the tone for what you expect and hope to see in terms of performance from your team and it will position you as a truly engaging manager who has used all your insight to make a plan that is personalised to them and reflects their unique levers for engagement.
My research shows managers are weakest at being the Strategist when it comes to engagement so despite these suggestions being quite simple and obvious, chances are managers won’t actually get round to doing it! Be very interested in how they are progressing eg, with their one-to-ones and think about what further support and advice you might be able to offer.
Author of The Culture Builders; Leadership Strategies for Employee Performance, Consultant and Expert facilitator